Treaty Land Entitlement
The 1992 Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement (Framework Agreement) is a tripartite agreement between Canada, Saskatchewan and entitlement First Nations. In its simplest terms, the Framework Agreement outlines the requirements to be fulfilled by the Framework Agreement signatories, the outcome of which is the resolution of outstanding treaty land owed to the First Nations under the terms of their respective treaties. Seven Treaty 4 bands were owed land since 1874, eighteen Treaty 6 First Nations since 1876 and two Treaty 10 First Nations had outstanding treaty land owing to them since 1906. Although not a party to Treaties 4, 6, and 10, the province of Saskatchewan is a signatory to the TLE Framework Agreement due to the province’s jurisdiction over Crown land in Saskatchewan. As such, under the terms of the Framework Agreement Saskatchewan is legally obligated to provide “unoccupied Crown lands” to Canada so it can fulfill its treaty obligations. Under the terms of the Framework Agreement and the numbered treaties entitlement, First Nations receive land and monetary compensation; the allocated dollars are used to purchase land according to a formula which determines the amount of land owed to First Nations. The entitlement acres are based on the First Nations population at the time of survey and the First Nations present population.
At the time of entering into treaty First Nations in Treaty 4, 6, and 10 were promised 128 acres per person. Shortfall acres represent the amount of outstanding land owed to the First Nation and the entitlement First Nation is required to satisfy the purchase of outstanding land owed to them and to then meet the reserve creation requirements. Upon meeting the shortfall acres requirement, a First Nation can focus on economic development projects. The reserve creation process is internal to the province of Saskatchewan and includes a ninety-day canvas of departments and agencies to determine the extent to which a parcel of First Nation land is free from various departmental or agency restrictions and/or interests. Other requirements are also considered during the ninety-day canvass. As such, the role of the federal government in the Additions to Reserve process is arguably minimal, given the province’s jurisdiction over Crown land.
A longstanding issue at the heart of the TLE process is the notion of “willing buyer, willing seller”—the ability of First Nations to acquire outstanding land owed under the terms of treaty is based on the willingness of landowners to sell and the First Nations willingness to purchase at the stipulated prices. However, entitlement First Nations have been challenged by inflated land prices once prospective landowners are aware that a TLE First Nation is the purchaser. For First Nations who wish to reinvigorate original territorial land holdings as expressed in their respective treaties present-day First Nations have had to purchase lands away from their home reserve area resulting in a ‘checkerboard’ approach to land acquisition.
- Saskatchewan: Government of Canada, A Synopsis of the Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement. Treaty Land Entitlement/Specific Claims Unit, Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, Saskatchewan Region, 1992.
- Martin-McGuire, Peggy. “Doing Treaty Land Entitlement Research in Saskatchewan.” Practising Anthropology 18, no. 4 (Fall 1996): 29-32.